Build your own Talkbox and challenge Daft Punk

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Home made talkboxes

  • Date of creation: mid 2010
  • Duration of the project: 5 hours (for 2 Talkbox)
  • Cost of the project: ~10€ (13$) + reuse parts

What is a Talkbox and why building one?

A Talkbox is a musical instrument injecting waves (notes) produced by a synthesizer, directly in the mouth via a flexible tube. The idea is to replace the vocal cords’ function but keeping the modulation by moving the jaw. The most surprising thing is that you do not have to breath to produce understandable sentences.
Of course one can find Talboxes on the market but my goal here is not to spend 100$ for brand new hardware. Reusing some parts, it is possible to build a working Talbox even if I do it more as a challenge than to really use it. Of course, a real Talkbox is much more compact and the drive technology seems to be different (Compression driver vs. speaker)

Talkbox in the market

Two construction types for two types of Talkbox

  1. The easy way: Reuse of a PC speaker
  2. The Geek way: Build your self the compression chamber

1) The easy way: Reuse of a PC speaker

It is the classic method, one can easily find tutorials if it on internet (see video in the end of this article). Indeed, it is so easy that even not being a tech expert you would need max 1 hour to build a good Talkbox.
Briefly the procedure is:

  • Covering the sound exist of the speaker with a plastic plate hold by 4 screws.
  • Making a hole in the plastic plate to place to tube and isolating the compound with hot glue.
  • Again fixing with hot glue the tube directly against the hole.
  • Put some old fabric around the speaker and close the box.

Talkbox 2 inside

2) The Geek way: Build your self the compression chamber

Why make things simple when they can be complicated? Building the chamber one can eventually choose the dimension of the box, the quality of the membrane, the amplifier, etc. After looking a bit what’s available in stores I fund the perfect format for the chamber: the double flowerpot!

  • The first flowerpot canalizes the wave forward to the tube. The speaker is glued with hot glue inside the pot.
  • The second flowerpot is used as a rear resonance chamber. It is not drilled what gives the advantage of being more compact like “closed speaker” are compared to “bass reflex” ones.
  • The metallic tube makes the link to the outside world and actually could be linked to the chamber via a flexible tube for better isolation.
  • Again some old fabric around the chamber and the box is ready.

Talkbox Half driver 2

Talkbox driver 2

Talkbox 2 inside

References

I got the idea watching those two videos about Talkbox:




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